The Houston Texans fired first-year head coach David Culley, he confirmed Thursday.
“I’m disappointed, but it’s part of the business,” Culley told SportsTalk 790 in a radio interview. “I understand and I move on.”
Culley told the station that he has three years remaining guaranteed on his contract, contradicting earlier reports that he was given only two guaranteed years when he became head coach. NFL Network reported Culley is owed $17 million on those remaining years.
“You’re judged every year,” Culley said. “Basically, you’re judged on wins and losses, and if you judge it on wins and losses I’m not happy with four wins at all. I expected to get more than four wins and felt like we should have got more than four wins. This is a bottom-line business, and I wasn’t happy with the number of wins we got.”
The Texans did not immediately confirm the termination of Culley, who guided the club to a 4-13 record this season. The team also reportedly fired offensive coordinator Tim Kelly.
Culley’s firing leaves one Black head coach in the NFL — Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers — and lifts the vacancy count to seven. An eighth team, the Las Vegas Raiders, made the playoffs with an interim head coach and is expected to seek a long-term replacement after the postseason ends.
Fox Sports reported Sunday that Culley would likely be fired with general manager Nick Caserio targeting former New England ally Josh McDaniels as head coach. McDaniels and Caserio were former teammates at John Carroll University.
But reports Thursday pointed to a reunion between Caserio and Brian Flores. Dispatched by the Miami Dolphins on Monday after three seasons and a 24-25 record, Flores interviewed with the Chicago Bears earlier this week.
In addition to Caserio, Flores has connections to Jack Easterby, who also has roots with the Patriots’ organization.
Between the 2020 shift away from a general manager, trading All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and firing coach Bill O’Brien, the Texans have been widely criticized for what appears to be less-than-optimal team management. Players were supportive of Culley on Monday before parting for the offseason but also voiced displeasure with the process that brought Culley and Caserio to Houston.
Culley, 66, took the job in Houston in January 2021 after quarterback Deshaun Watson requested the franchise trade him.
Watson reportedly felt disrespected by ownership when his preference for a new head coach, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, wasn’t seriously considered.
Prior to joining the Texans, Culley was an NFL assistant coach for 27 years following 15 years in the college ranks.